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Wonderful Accidents

May 1948 and 1967 This past week we celebrated the declaration of Israel’s independence in 1948 and the return of the Old City of Jerusalem in 1967. In both cases the political leadership in Israel, tended towards caution. But it was the determined decisions of individuals with guts and a sense of what the moment required, that changed the course…

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Sephardim

I am always upset whenever I am forced to recognize that we Jews, few in number, are so divided into warring sects, denominations, traditions and ideologies. I guess it’s just a combination of human nature and historical experience. There’s one divide where the facts indicate that things are getting better. Through marriage and the nature of Israeli and Western society,…

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San Sabba

“Risiera di San Sabba is a five-storey brick-built compound located in Trieste, northern Italy, that functioned during World War II as a Nazi concentration camp for the detention and killing of political prisoners, and a transit camp for Jews, most of whom were then deported to Auschwitz. SS members Odilo Globocnik and Karl Frenzel, and Ivan Marchenko are all said to have participated in the killings at this camp. The cremation facilities, the…

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Weird Customs

Anyone familiar with the Haredi/Orthodox world today knows that there has been a phenomenal increase in the number of charms (segulot) that are being peddled, adopted, and regarded as essential to Jewish religious life. The Orthodox press is full of announcements of pious visting rabbis who will guarantee solutions for every human problem. Organizations here and in Israel will arrange…

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Change the Omer?

Pesach is over; normal service resumes! But what is “normal”? We are now into a period of mourning called “the Omer”. It’s a time of mourning—no weddings or parties (and for those decadent ones amongst us, no public entertainment, opera, concerts, theater, or cinema).  None of these restrictions are mentioned in the Torah. All it says there is that the…

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Is the Bible fact?

Well before Spinoza’s “Tractatus Theologicus Politicus” (1670) Christian thinkers and rational philosophers, like Hobbes, began to challenge the authorship and validity of the Bible. Questions arose in both the Jewish and the Christian worlds as to whether all of the Bible stories in the Old or New Testaments actually happened the way they were written. In the following centuries, as…

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